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The local and international rejection against transnational corporation Ecoener-Hidralia for their violation of community rights managed to stop a hydroelectric project that put at risk the survival of several indigenous communities, showing the need of a global instrument that forces corporations to respect territories and communities, said the Spanish activist.
The relentless will and mobilization of Santa Cruz Barillas, added to the international solidarity, forced Spanish transnational corporation Ecoener-Hidralia (responsible for the Hidro Santa Cruz project) to leave Guatemala, particularly the Huehuetenango department.
The news were made public by the end of 2016. This victory was preceded by eight years of relentless struggle by the communities and the actions of a broad international solidarity network that found environmental federation Friends of the Earth International at the forefront of action and commitment.
Imprisonment of community leaders, pressure and harassment against organizations, and the discrediting of civil organizations were common news during these years. With reference to this, Real World Radio interviewed Víctor Barro, Chair of Friends of the Earth Spain, a group that was greatly involved in the denunciation of the actions of the company in Guatemala.
“The first reaction is joy, it is to celebrate that it is possible to stop the impunity of those investments that are bad for the people, although this is nothing but the tip of the iceberg”, said the European photographer and environmental activist.
“In Santa Cruz Barillas there are people who have been suffering the actions of this company for almost ten years”, and added that the mobilization and struggle will continue. Barro explained that solidarity (“this important value”) is understood as the alignment between two realities (Spanish and Guatemalan), which suffer the effects of the same exploitative capitalist system. And reminded that there are similar cases in Guatemala that need our involvement in the future.
“We don´t want our country´s name to be used to violate human rights”, and this was seen in the over 23 thousand signatures gathered in Spain to demand the exit of Hidralia from the Central American country.
From Galicia, Spain, Barro highlighted in this context the actions carried out by Friends of the Earth International in the framework of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity in the building of a “Binding Treaty” on transnational corporations and human rights through governments represented in the UN Human Rights Council.
“A broad and agile binding treaty is key, not only for companies, but for contractors as well. What happened in Guatemala is a good example of what can be done and needs to be done to stop impunity. We are not against investments, we are against those investments that centralize profits and share costs. Now it is the turn of the UN to move forward”, said Barro during the interview.
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